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The Passion of Fred Kiekhaefer


Several years back, Skip Braver, the owner and chief executive officer of iconic high-performance powerboat builder Cigarette Racing Team explained his decision to go exclusively with Mercury Racing engine power in all of the Opa-Locka, Fla., company’s custom creations. Prior to Braver’s mandate, buyers could order Cigarette V-bottoms with just about any go-fast marine engine builder’s products.

Braver’s decision ruffled more than a few feathers in the engine-building community at the time, but he had his reasons. And they were legit.

“Listen, we don’t build engines at Cigarette, none of the major custom boat builders do,” said Braver. “So when an engine breaks on the water, it’s not, ‘This guy’s engine broke again or that guy’s engine broke again,” it’s ‘The damn Cigarette broke again.’ I don’t want that, I can’t have that, and that’s why we will only install Mercury Racing power in our boats. It isn’t cheap, but it’s reliable, and I think a lot of that has to do with the way Freddy runs that company.”

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(Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image)